Air Force Lacrosse Opens Season at Denver Face Off Classic
The Air Force Academy's lacrosse team will open its regular season this weekend at Denver Lacrosse Field in the inaugural Denver Pioneer Face Off Classic. Air Force will face Maryland of the Atlantic Coast Conference at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Lehigh of the Patriot League at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
The 2001 Falcon lacrosse team heads into this season with a new attitude. Their enthusiasm, work ethic, and focus give head coach Fred Acee a lot to be optimistic about as he continues to remodel the team into a top notch Division I program. The biggest indicator of the teams' winning attitude is the level of competition during practice. No position is guaranteed this year, especially with the addition of 21 freshmen recruits, the biggest recruiting class in Acee's four years with the team. These young and talented players will add depth all over the field, especially at goalie and midfield.
This year's roster only features six seniors, but they will play a pivotal role in leading the team through another challenging schedule. The schedule includes seven games against Top 25 opponents (Maryland, Hofstra, Notre Dame, Brown, Ohio State, Army, and Denver). The schedule is developed under Coach Acee's philosophy that you can't become the best unless you play the best. Great Western Lacrosse League play again will be very competitive with the addition of Fairfield to the group of Notre Dame, Butler, Ohio State, Denver, and Air Force. Air Force will also be gunning for Wagner, Manhattan, VMI, and Villanova. Attackman and team captain, Jay Agnew, will quarterback the offense, and along with fellow senior Ryan Hayde, will be asked to contribute heavily. The development of junior (C2C) attackman Nate Koss and sophomore (C3C) attackman Kyle Warf has been very promising, and they will be expected to be among the top offensive contributors. Junior Rob Holt and sophomores David Frank and Ryan Hyatt will keep fighting for starting spots at attack.
Freshmen (C4C) attackmen Dave Brown, Greg Dangler, and Billy Keleher are all big, athletic, talented players, who are quickly making the transition to college level lacrosse. They add much needed depth at the attack position.
At midfield, big years are expected from the senior (C1C) leadership. Nick Dicapua is the Falcons top short-stick defender, and Dylan Quinn will play on the first midfield line. Craig Anders, a face-off specialist, will be counted on to win many possessions for the team.
Junior Matt Dudderar, another team captain, was injured most of last season, but he has the hardest shot on the team and good field sense. Juniors Kevin Hill, another face-off specialist, Chris Munger, and Eddie Palazollo, and sophomores Eric Lederer, Alex DeManss, Adam Gaudinski, and Kevin Groom will all figure into the top three Falcon midfield lines. Freshmen Mike Colosimo, Tim Lorden, Michael Gore, Dan Hendrix, and Ray Wilson add great depth at midfield. Sophomore Grayson Walter, and freshmen Greg Kantz and Heath Kerns will provide depth at the face-off position.
The group of long stick middies starts with Senior Steve Berger, who's having his best year, and sophomore John Anacker, who started at LSM last year. Junior Chad Orzechowski has plenty of experience, and will continue to play for the Falcons. Freshman defenseman Zack Lehmann has recently switch to the position and will see time this season, and Matt Cisar is learning the position quickly.
The defense will be led by juniors Michael Garrott, a three-year starter and team captain, Bruce Phillips and Matt Lynch, and sophomore Nick Wzientek. Freshmen Chris Berardi, Chris Palmer, Andrew Sunderland, Matt Opisso, and Rick Adrian all look ready to step in at defense if needed.
In goal, the Falcons have a great deal of competition for the starting job. Sophomore Billy Arnold started every game last year, and looks good again this year. Freshman Jeff Moss spent a year at the Prep School, and will compete for the starting job. Sophomore Ricky Greening, and freshmen Monte Caplan and Pat McCudden are all getting better everyday. The Falcons will certainly have plenty of options at goalie this year.
Overall, Coach Acee believes the team has improved to the extent that the Falcons will be very competitive in 2001.